Our vision for changing the world by putting digital money in the hands of the next one billion internet users.
“Building on top of a crypto back-end enables Noah to bring financial inclusion to emerging markets, at scale. We have, for the first time, the opportunity to level the financial playing field for those who are unbanked and living in economically-developing countries. By leveraging the innovative power of cryptocurrencies, Noah will bring financial inclusion to the next one billion people on Earth.
Shah Ramezani — Co-Founder, Noah
We started Noah because we noticed two prevailing trends.
One, people across the world have been betrayed by banks, and their distrust of financial systems is growing rapidly, and with good reason.
Two, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have been quietly disrupting global financial systems. We believe that this is only beginning stage of a massive shift.
In 2021, software has been “eating the world” for nearly twenty years, permeating nearly every aspect of life in economically-developed countries. In the last decade, we’ve watched as software has devoured entire industries: hotels (AirBnB), taxis (Uber and Lyft), and retail itself (Amazon).
Now, it’s banking’s turn.
Concepts for a global digital currency have been floating around the internet since the late 1990’s (ever heard of “e-gold?). As life becomes increasingly mediated by software at all levels, mass adoption of digital currencies such as Bitcoin are inevitable.
With cryptocurrencies, the potential for the disruption of the banking space is vast. In truth, those in emerging markets have been using Bitcoin instead of traditional financial services for years. Not only for remittances and peer-to-peer payments for goods and services, but also as a hedge against their own countries’ rapidly devaluing native currencies.
Prime examples include countries such as Argentina and Lebanon, which limit the public’s ability to purchase hard currency in an attempt to curb inflation. This is especially problematic for unbanked adults, who keep most of their wealth in hard currency. Naturally, those that are unbanked turn to cryptocurrencies to bridge this gap.
Even those who are “banked” deal with hidden fees, rising interest rates, complicated and arbitrary loan processes. In a growing number of cases, banked adults have become “unbanked”, due to indiscriminate KYC and AML processes incorrectly identifying them as high risk customers of the banks.
Furthermore, unbanked adults face additional problems such as: unfair fees for sending payments to family and friends, having to buy assets in cash, and the volatile process of finding ways to store their money securely.
Despite government restrictions, high inflation, and predatory banking practices, unbanked adults across the globe find ways to protect their money and send money home to relatives.
Leveling the Playing Field
One of our core beliefs at Noah is that everyone on the planet deserves a fair financial playing field.
The disintermediation of banks and state-run monopolies with regard to financial services is inevitable. However, a startup mentality only gets us part of the way. The worst case scenario would be that states and banks simply become more efficient at exploiting the unbanked and wage-earners.
Using the power of cryptocurrencies, Noah provides a powerful, new banking alternative to every adult on the planet. Noah is a single place where you can spend, save and accrue wealth predictably over time, at rates that are superior to consumer-level financial services across the world.
This may seem improbable, and you may be thinking “Do you really think you can get people who don’t even use banks to use your crypto-based product?”
The truth is that this is already happening–unbanked people across the globe are turning to Bitcoin and other digital currencies to protect their savings and remit money worldwide.
This has been happening for a while, as we’ll explore later in the post, and this trend shows no signs of stopping. In fact, we’re betting our company on it.
In creating Noah, we needed to start from First Principles, and take a few steps back to understand the audience whom we are building the solution for.
The first of these questions was, “Who is unbanked, and why?”
Understanding What It Means to Be “Unbanked”
For someone living in an economically-developed country (such as the US, or the UK) it is nearly impossible to imagine what it’s like to be unbanked. The average adult in America might have a bank account with both savings and checking accounts, multiple credit and debit cards, access to loans, mortgages, Apple Pay, PayPal, stocks–i.e. a wide array of financial services that they can access.
Unbanked adults have none of this. For some, using banks is simply not an option. Many unbanked adults dwell outside urban centers or in rural areas. Often, the geographically-closest bank will not provide them services, due to income level, religious affiliation, or it simply costs too much to open an account.
In fact, there are many reasons why people across the world are unbanked–some of which are rather surprising. In the next section, we’ll explore who is unbanked, and why.
Global Demographics of the Unbanked
The World Bank estimates there are 1.6 billion unbanked adults on the planet.
Surprisingly, more than half of the world’s unbanked population resides in just seven countries: China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mexico, and Bangladesh. Of these one billion people, they are typically younger, have low educational attainment, are within the 40% poorest segment of their country’s economy, and skew either slightly or significantly female, depending on the country.
One common assumption is that those that are unbanked are itinerant, lazy, and choose not to earn a liveable income. This is far from the truth. In fact, according to this recent survey, most unbanked people are employed or seeking work.
Additionally, most unbanked people in developed economies report being self-employed, while 31% of unbanked people in developing economies report working for a wage.
Why Are So Many People Unbanked?
The number one reason reported by unbanked people is that they don’t have enough money to justify opening an account. Nearly two-thirds of survey takers reported this as the main reason they remain unbanked.
Worldwide, 30% of adults reported that they do not need a bank account. It stands to reason that some unbanked adults might be open to using financial services, if the services are accessible and relevant to their needs.
Among other reasons that were shared were that: opening a bank account was too expensive, a family member already had one, financial institutions were too far away from their home, documentation requirements prohibited them from opening one, and distrust in the financial system.
Of the 1.7 billion adults who remain unbanked, approximately two-thirds own a mobile phone that could help them access financial services, according to a 2018 Worldbank study.
In fact, it’s not financial services but cryptocurrency adoption that is the most remarkable trend in economically developing countries, as well as countries with troubled economies.
Crypto Adoption in Economically Developing Countries
Crypto adoption is actually occurring faster in countries that don’t have a strong banking infrastructure, as opposed to “first-world” countries such as the United States, Great Britain, or Japan.
In a 2020 survey, 32% of Nigerians reported that they had owned or used cryptocurrency–the highest on Earth (Americans ranked 8th)! After Nigeria, Vietnam has 21% of residents that were surveyed reported using crypto, followed by 20% of residents in the Philippines and 16% in Turkey and Peru.
These four countries can all be classified as “economically-developing”. This report is one of many making it clear that cryptocurrency adoption is happening most dramatically in economically developing countries.
Astonishingly, in 2021 Nigeria has the third most active cryptocurrency market, behind the United States and Russia.
Nigeria and Crypto: A Love Story
High inflation, a large population of unbanked adults, and a complicated exchange rate policy are the main reason Nigeria “is leading global cryptocurrency adoption”, says Paxful CEO Ray Youssef.
What’s even more surprising is that the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a ban on cryptocurrency in 2020, ordering local banks to shut down any business accounts with cryptocurrency-related transactions. Despite the ban, cryptocurrency adoption in Nigeria continues to grow, with many Nigerians turning to peer-to-peer transactions to bypass government restrictions.
While Nigeria is exemplary in its population’s adoption of cryptocurrency, it’s embrace of blockchain-based digital money is not unique.
Just recently, El Salvador added Bitcoin as one of its national currencies, alongside the US Dollar. In the United States, The State of Wyoming passed legislation that went into effect on July 1st that allows business owners to set up DAOs as legal business structures.
Argentina deserves a case study of its own. Argentinians have been using crypto as a hedge against the country’s hyperinflation since the earliest days of Bitcoin. Energy subsidies and a cold climate in the southern end of the country are helping to spur a “crypto renaissance” in the country.
Although Bitcoin has been around since 2009, Investopedia reports that, as of May 31st, 2021, the value of all crypto markets combined were worth slightly less than 5% of the global money supply.
People around the world are choosing to use cryptocurrency as an alternative to traditional financial services, and this trend shows no signs of stopping.
By now, it’s clear that we are in the earliest stages of a global financial revolution.
For the very first time in human history, the poorest people in the world can choose the same store of value that the richest and most sophisticated investors are choosing, in this case, cryptocurrencies.
Noah was founded in 2020. Our mission is to improve the lives of the next one billion people in Emerging Markets by focusing purely on the tangible benefits of cryptocurrencies, and extend financial inclusion to everyone on the planet.
By building simple use cases on top of a blockchain infrastructure, we expect to technologically leapfrog financial inclusion in these markets.
We’re excited to be actively working with the best partners worldwide, ranging from on-ramp and custody, to bring the simplest and safest financial solutions to the market.
What We’re Building at Noah
One of the first products we’re building at Noah is an app that is a complete banking stack that lets anyone in the world leverage the power of crypto.
But what exactly does it mean to “leverage the power of crypto”, in this instance?
If that sounds potentially complicated, or volatile–it’s not.
It starts with a digital wallet for you to send your money to.
Once you’ve sent money to your Noah wallet, you can do things like send money across borders for minimal transaction costs(“nearly” free), or receive up to 10% per year interest on your account balance.
These are just two of the core features of the Noah app. Here’s a brief description of each of Noah’s features, and what they can do for you.
Send Money for (Nearly) Free
Send money through Noah for a fraction of what it costs to send a wire transfer, or to use digital payment services such as PayPal or one of it’s subsidiaries.
Depending on your country, you may be getting charged 10% or more for the privilege of sending your money to family members or friends. As you know, this can be quite expensive if you are sending a substantial amount of money.
Noah gives you the ability to send money across borders to your loved ones–instantly, straight from your phone, and with significantly less fees.
Up to 6% APY
Get a bank-beating ~6% APY through Noah. Interest is calculated daily and paid weekly. Withdraw anytime.
Access money whenever you need it, through safe, simple loans.
Make money with the Noah app as you shop with partner rewards. Refer friends to earn money and receive even more benefits!
Our Core Values
We believe that:
- Banking Is Old News: Traditional banking is an outdated product. It runs on ancient computer hardware and software. This limits the value of the products and services legacy banks are able to offer consumers.
- No One Should Be Left Out: Financial inclusion should be a basic human right.
- We Don’t Need to Wait: We do not need to rely on government programs and NGOs to help those that are unbanked access financial services. We also do not think people need to wait for banks to catch up to decentralized, blockchain-based financial services to protect their assets and savings.
- Economic Opportunity: Everyone deserves access to financial services and loans. A line of credit enables sole proprietors and businesses to grow–creating jobs and reducing inequality across the planet.
- Stronger Economies: Financial inclusion strengthens and stabilizes economies, which leads to a more stable, equitable, and secure world.
We truly believe that we can profoundly improve quality of life for billions of people, by offering them financial services that serve their needs, as opposed to legacy banking services that are inadequate, antiquated, and exclude billions of people across the world.
At Noah, we are building the future of financial services, and that future is inclusive, decentralized, and life-changing.
Join us as we continue to publish more content about what we’re building, and our vision for a more equitable world.
The Flood is coming, join noah.com!